“What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can’t reread a phone call.” – Liz Carpenter
My parents met when my mother was 14 and my father 16. They married about ten years later. Last July my parents passed away within two weeks of each other. My mother was frail and we knew her end was near. It didn’t make it any easier, but it didn’t catch us by surprise. My hale and hearty father, however, was a different story. He was buried exactly two weeks after my mother, proving that it is possible to die of a broken heart.
Along with my memories, they left behind a stack of letters they’d written to each other after my father enlisted in the Navy. Thought I haven’t put them in chronological order yet, they seem to be written between June 1944 and February 1946.
I’ve only just begun to read the letters. I feel like an eavesdropper listening in on a private conversation because I can so clearly hear their voices saying the words as I read the pages. However, I think they kept the letters all these years not only for their sentimental meaning but also because they wanted their kids, grandkids and so on to learn more about of their personal history together and “the good old days.”
The letters are censored by the Navy so there is very little war talk. In fact, in a few of the earlier letters you wouldn’t know a war was raging at all. Their world, at that time, consisted of each other.
Still there is much to be learned from them. For instance air-mail postage was six cents in 1944 but went up to eight cents in 1945. My mother’s sense of humor never changed – when talking about things they’d need after their wedding my mother wrote, “I bought an iron today. I hope you know how to use it.” I also discovered they planned on having two boys and one girl (they ended up with two girls only). My father never wrote professionally, though he should have. He had a marvelous way with words and his letters were beautifully written.
I still miss them both so much, but I am so appreciative that my mother, Coleta Weiss Kennedy, (March 29, 1921 - July 9, 2008), and my father, James Francis Kennedy, (October 14, 1918 to July 22, 2008) had the foresight to leave this wonderful treasure behind.
It makes me sad to think that the writing of a love letter may be a lost art. With the advent of technology – email, texting and so on, will future generations ever again find a bundle of yellowed letters tied lovingly together with ribbon?
Thank you for stopping by,
Tags: Liz Carpenter, Love Letters, WWII,